Prescription Options

Minimizing Birth Control Side Effects

April 3, 2018

With so many mix birth control pills available, how can you know what to use? Most are equally effective, so the best option for you will likely come down to which is likely to create no (or very few) side effects.

The doctor who prescribes your contraceptive will be your final guide, but it’s always wise to be as informed as possible about any medication you take, so within this guide to creating an educated choice about which birth control pill is ideal for ​you you’ll find a summary of the differences between the kinds of tablets, the possible side effects of each, and much more.

A Quick Explanation About Choosing a Birth Control Pill

In general, combination hormonal contraceptives have a synthetic estrogen (to stabilize the endometrium and decrease unwanted spotting) and a progestin (because of its contraceptive effects). Understanding the differences between the progestins and about side effects effects, androgenic effects, and progestational selectivity can help you opt for a pill with minimal side effects. 

To briefly explain how the combination of those activities might cause side effects, let’s look at some particular combination birth control pills. Oral contraceptives that normally have high androgenic effects and very low estrogen activity, for instance, are more likely to cause unwanted hair growth and acne side effects. Additionally, a progestin with greater androgenic effects may often create breast tenderness, bloating and mood changes.

It is necessary to remember, however, that nearly all women using a tablet computer with this combinations do not wind up developing acne; this unwanted effect is more likely to happen in those women who are likely toward androgenicity.

Birth control pills containing this high androgenic/low estrogenic pattern include:

  • Alesse
  • Estrostep FE
  • Levlen
  • Loestrin 1.5/30
  • Loestrin 1/20 Fe
  • Ovral

As there are various sorts of progestins, they each possess a different potency concerning progestational, estrogenic, and androgenic effects. The end result of these effects is determined by the combination of the type and amounts of progestin and estrogen.

Typically, the equilibrium (or ratio) between the estrogen and progestin in a pill brand may play a part in the side effects you’re having. Each woman may respond differently to these elements. Additionally, the type of pill you may be using monophasic/biphasic/triphasic or extended cycle may help alleviate certain side effects. Because of that, please note the following are general guidelines, and might not apply to all women.

To be a little more technical, in order to ascertain the entire combination of these three effects, a person must multiply the true dose of the 3 components (effects) times the comparative potency of that element in order to classify a birth control pill manufacturer as having elevated androgenic effects, being estrogen dominant, or progestin dominant. Given the sophistication of figuring out this all on your own, the choice as to which birth control pill to use must be discussed with your healthcare provider. You may use this information to begin a conversation with your doctor about which pill kind might be most suitable for you.

It’s also important to provide the pills you’re presently taking a fair trial of at least two to three months. In case you have switched your tablet brand, you should also give the new ones a two- to three-month trial because it often requires a few months only to your body to adjust to the new hormones in your birth control pill.

Choosing a Birth Control Pill by Enhancing Its Negative Effects

The following graph is a relative classification, therefore perhaps it doesn’t apply to each female. When choosing a combination birth control pill, then you may have the ability to minimize side effects by switching to (or initially choosing ) a pill brand suggested from the below graph based on what side result you are trying to reduce or relieve.

Side Impact (Problem) Progestin/Estrogen/Androgenic Effects Attempt Applying These Pill Brands to Reduce the Negative Impact
Acne higher estrogen, reduced androgen potency Demulen 1/50, Brevicon, Mircette, Modicon, Necon, Othro-Cyclen, Ortho-TriCyclen, Yasmin
Breakthrough bleeding (spotting) higher estrogen, higher progestin potency, reduced androgen potency Demulen 1/50, Desogen, Ortho-Cept, Ovcon 50, Yasmin, Zovia 1/50E, Estrostep FE**
Breast soreness lower estrogen, lower progestin potency Alesse, Levlite
Depression lower progestin potency Alesse, Brevicon, Levlite, Modicon, Necon 1/35, Ortho-Cyclen, Othro-TriCyclen, Ovcon 35,Tri-Levlen, Triphasil, Trivora
Endometriosis or endometriosis prevention lower estrogen, greater progestin potency, higher androgen potency Demulen 1/35, Levlen, Levora, Loestrin 1.5/30, Loestrin 1/20 Fe, LoOvral, Nordette, Zovia 1/35E (used either always with no days of placebo pills or with just 4 days of placebo pills for prevention)
Headaches (not menstrual cramps ) lower estrogen, lower progestin potency Alesse, Brevicon, Levlite, Modicon, Necon 1/35, Ortho-Cyclen, Othro-TriCyclen, Ovcon 35, Tri-Levlen, Triphasil, Trivora
Moodiness or irritability lower progestin potency Alesse, Levlite, Loestrin 1/20 Fe, Yasmin, Yaz, Beyaz (or any tablet with much less estrogen than currently on)
Severe menstrual cramps greater progestin potency Demulen 1/35, Demulen 1/50, Desogen, Mircette, Loestrin 1.5/30, Ortho-Cept, Yasmin, Zovia 1/35E, Zovia 1/50E
Weight gain lower estrogen, lower progestin potency Alesse, Levlite, Loestrin 1/20 Fe, Yasmin, Yaz, Beyaz (or some other pill with less estrogen than on)

Estrostep FE comprises the progestin norethindrone acetate (this progestin generally has a higher androgen potency). Accordingly, although Estrostep FE follows more of a high androgenic/low estrogenic routine, this really is a triphasic pill that was really made to help prevent breakthrough bleeding while trying to keep hormone exposure as low as you can. Estrostep FE is a fantastic illustration as to why the data in this chart ought to be viewed more in terms of being overall instructions, and may not always hold from one woman to another.

A Word From Verywell

Remember, every woman could react differently to specific birth control procedures, so this information is supposed to be an overall summary. Also, it’s important to point out that the primary reason to use hormonal birth control would be to get contraception (to prevent an accidental pregnancy). Considering potential noncontraceptive benefits of birth control, as well as unwanted side effects, can be a part of this discussion you’ve got with your doctor when determining which hormonal method may be best suited for you.